Graceland Ranks First in Iowa for Graduates Who Say Their Work is High-Meaning

Students studying at computers

Graceland values learning, wholeness and community, and the university encourages the development of these values for the enrichment of lives and the betterment of the world. This is stated clearly on the vision, mission and values page of Graceland’s website, but it’s not just an aspirational idea – Graceland students and graduates live it out.

Of the 28 Iowa colleges and universities listed in the College Salary Report updated for 2020 by payscale.com, Graceland was the highest ranked for the percentage of alumni who say their work makes the world a better place. In fact, according to the report, 66% of Graceland graduates believe their work to be “high meaning.”

This finding may not come as much of a surprise to those who know Graceland. Many of the student and alumni spotlights and stories written by the communications office highlight the way Gracelanders are making a difference in the world through their work – both before and after graduation. You can read some of these stories of students and alumni in the Horizons, Graceland’s alumni magazine.

“I am a Yellowjacket bursting with pride right now,” said Graceland Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Deb Skinner of the results. “This study confirms all the stories I know of our graduates out there, who are passionate about changing the world for the better. Their lives aren't just anecdotal evidence of what we say is a key part of the Graceland experience – they're a predictable outcome!”

Considering that more than 80% of college-educated Americans seek to find and perform meaningful work, according to a study by Bates College and Gallup, less than 50% actually attain it. Graceland graduates seem to be exceeding that statistic. And with new Graceland programs like the recently added social change major, it is the hope of many at Graceland that the percentage of graduates who want and believe their work to be high meaning will only continue to increase.

"Graceland’s social change major was developed so students could attach new meaning to their careers. Future teachers, nurses, writers and scientists who add the social change major to their education will be able to connect their studies to social change in their communities, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to do just that." – Casey Main, Social Change ‘22

The payscale.com list was intended to name the best colleges in Iowa for salary potential, and Graceland faired well in the overall rankings as well. Graceland ranked in the top half of the list for both early career pay at $48,800 annually and mid-career pay at $88,200, and ranked 11th overall of all 28 schools considered (there are 39 colleges and universities that confer bachelor’s degrees in Iowa according to the U.S. Department of Education).

So, while Harvard Business Review reported that nine out of 10 people are willing to earn less money to do more meaningful work, the majority of Graceland graduates haven’t had to make the choice.